The New York Times’s Ten Best Films

1920 | 1921 | 1922 | 1923 | 1924 | 1925 | 1926 | 1927 | 1928 | 1929 | 1930 | 1931 | 1932 | 1933 | 1934 | 1935 | 1936 | 1937 | 1938 | 1939


1923

  • The Covered Wagon (1923, James Cruze)
  • A Woman of Paris: A Drama of Fate (1923, Charles Chaplin)
  • Scaramouche (1923, Rex Ingram)
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923, Wallace Worsley)
  • The Green Goddess (1923, Sidney Olcott)
  • Rosita (1923, Ernst Lubitsch)
  • Hollywood (1923, James Cruze)
  • Anna Christie (1923, John Griffith Wray)
  • Little Old New York (1923, Sidney Olcott)
  • When Knighthood Was in Flower (1922, Robert G. Vignola)

1924

  • The Dramatic Life of Abraham Lincoln (1924, Phil Rosen)
  • The Thief of Bagdad (1924, Raoul Walsh)
  • Beau Brummell (1924, Harry Beaumont)
  • Merton of the Movies (1924, James Cruze)
  • Sea Hawk (1924, Frank Lloyd)
  • He Who Gets Slapped (1924, Victor Sjöström)
  • The Marriage Circle (1924, Ernst Lubitsch)
  • In Hollywood with Potash and Perlmutter (1924, Alfred E. Green)
  • Peter Pan (1924, Herbert Brenon)
  • Isn’t Life Wonderful (1924, D.W. Griffith)

1925

  • The Big Parade (1925, King Vidor)
  • The Last Laugh (1924, F.W. Murnau)
  • The Unholy Three (1925, Tod Browning)
  • The Gold Rush (1925, Charles Chaplin)
  • The Merry Widow (1925, Erich von Stroheim)
  • The Dark Angel (1925, George Fitzmaurice)
  • Don Q, Son of Zorro (1925, Donald Crisp)
  • Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925, Fred Niblo)
  • Stella Dallas (1925, Henry King)
  • A Kiss for Cinderella (1925, Herbert Brenon)

1926

  • Jealousy (1925, Ewald André Dupont)
  • Beau Geste (1926, Herbert Brenon)
  • What Price Glory (1926, Raoul Walsh)
  • Battleship Potemkin (1925, Sergei M. Eisenstein)
  • The Grand Duchess and the Waiter (1926, Malcolm St. Clair)
  • The Black Pirate (1926, Albert Parker)
  • Old Ironsides (1926, James Cruze)
  • Moana (1926, Robert J. Flaherty)
  • La Boheme (1926, King Vidor)
  • So This Is Paris (1926, Ernst Lubitsch)

1927

  • The King of Kings (1927, Cecil B. DeMille)
  • Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness (1927, Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack)
  • The Way of All Flesh (1927, Victor Fleming)
  • Wings (1927, William A. Wellman)
  • 7th Heaven (1927, Frank Borzage)
  • Sunrise (1927, F.W. Murnau)
  • Service for Ladies (1927, Harry d’Abbadie d’Arrast)
  • Quality Street (1927, Sidney Franklin)
  • Underworld (1927, Josef von Sternberg)
  • Stark Love (1927, Karl Brown)

1928

  • The Circus (1928, Charles Chaplin)
  • Street Angel (1928, Frank Borzage)
  • Czar Ivan the Terrible (1928, Juri Taritch)
  • The Last Command (1928, Josef von Sternberg)
  • White Shadows of the South Seas (1928, W.S. Van Dyke)
  • The Patriot (1928, Ernst Lubitsch)
  • The End of St. Petersburg (1927, Mikhail Doller and Vsevolod Pudovkin)
  • Show People (1928, King Vidor)
  • Homecoming (1928, Joe May)
  • 4 Devils (1928, F.W. Murnau)

1929

  • The Love Parade (1929, Ernst Lubitsch)
  • Disraeli (1929, Alfred E. Green)
  • Hallelujah (1929, King Vidor)
  • The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928, Carl Theodor Dreyer)
  • The Taming of the Shrew (1929, Sam Taylor)
  • Bulldog Drummond (1929, F. Richard Jones)
  • They Had to See Paris (1929, Frank Borzage)
  • The Sky Hawk (1929, John G. Blystone)
  • The Virginian (1929, Victor Fleming)
  • Sally (1929, John Francis Dillon)

1930

  • With Byrd at the South Pole (1930)
  • All Quiet on the Western Front (1930, Lewis Milestone)
  • Journey’s End (1930, James Whale)
  • Lightnin’ (1930, Henry King)
  • The Devil to Pay (1930, George Fitzmaurice)
  • Outward Bound (1930, Robert Milton)
  • Tom Sawyer (1930, John Cromwell)
  • Holiday (1930, Edward H. Griffith)
  • Abraham Lincoln (1930, D.W. Griffith)
  • Anna Christie (1930, Clarence Brown)

1931

  • The Guardsman (1931, Sidney Franklin)
  • City Lights (1931, Charles Chaplin)
  • The Smiling Lieutenant (1931, Ernst Lubitsch)
  • Arrowsmith (1931, John Ford)
  • Tabu: A Story of the South Seas (1931, F.W. Murnau)
  • Bad Girl (1931, Frank Borzage)
  • Frankenstein (1931, James Whale)
  • Skippy (1931, Norman Taurog)
  • Private Lives (1931, Sidney Franklin)
  • A Connecticut Yankee (1931, David Butler)

1932

  • Mädchen in Uniform (1932, Leontine Sagan)
  • Trouble in Paradise (1932, Ernst Lubitsch)
  • The Theft of the Mona Lisa (1931, Géza von Bolváry)
  • Grand Hotel (1932, Edmund Goulding)
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932, Rouben Mamoulian)
  • The Mouthpiece (1932, James Flood and Elliot Nugent)
  • One Hour With You (1932, Ernst Lubitsch)
  • A Bill of Divorcement (1932, George Cukor)
  • The Doomed Battalion (1932, Cyril Gardner)
  • Reserved for Ladies (1932, Alexander Korda)

1933

  • Cavalcade (1933, Frank Lloyd)
  • Reunion in Vienna (1933, Sidney Franklin)
  • Dawn (1933, Gustav Ucicky)
  • State Fair (1933, Henry King)
  • Dinner at Eight (1933, George Cukor)
  • Berkeley Square (1933, Frank Lloyd)
  • The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933, Alexander Korda)
  • Little Women (1933, George Cukor)
  • The Invisible Man (1933, James Whale)
  • His Double Life (1933, Arthur Hopkins)

1934

  • It Happened One Night (1934, Frank Capra)
  • The Thin Man (1934, W.S. Van Dyke)
  • Man of Aran (1934, Robert J. Flaherty)
  • The House of Rothschild (1934, Alfred L. Werker)
  • Our Daily Bread (1934, King Vidor)
  • The Lost Patrol (1934, John Ford)
  • The Battle (1934, Nicolas Farkas and Victor Tourjansky)
  • The First World War (1934)
  • One Night of Love (1934, Victor Schertzinger)
  • The Rise of Catherine the Great (1934, Paul Czinner)

1935

  1. The Informer (1935, John Ford)
  2. Mutiny on the Bounty (1935, Frank Lloyd)
  3. The 39 Steps (1935, Alfred Hitchcock)
  4. Alice Adams (1935, George Stevens)
  5. David Copperfield (1935, George Cukor)
  6. Ruggles of Red Gap (1935, Leo McCarey)
  7. Sequoia (1934, Chester M. Franklin)
  8. The Scoundrel (1935, Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur)
  9. Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935, Henry Hathaway)
  10. Les Miserables (1935, Richard Boleslawski)

1936

  1. Carnival in Flanders (1935, Jacques Feyder)
  2. Fury (1936, Fritz Lang)
  3. Dodsworth (1936, William Wyler)
  4. Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936, Frank Capra)
  5. Winterset (1936, Alfred Santell)
  6. Romeo and Juliet (1936, George Cukor)
  7. The Green Pastures (1936, Marc Connelly and William Keighley)
  8. The Ghost Goes West (1936, René Clair)
  9. The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936, William Dieterle)
  10. These Three (1936, William Wyler)
  11. The Great Ziegfeld (1936, Robert Z. Leonard)

1937

  1. The Life of Emila Zola (1937, William Dieterle)
  2. The Good Earth (1937, Sidney Franklin)
  3. Stage Door (1937, Gregory La Cava)
  4. Captains Courageous (1937, Victor Fleming)
  5. They Won’t Forget (1937, Mervyn LeRoy)
  6. Make Way for Tomorrow (1937, Leo McCarey)
  7. I Met Him in Paris (1937, Wesley Ruggles)
  8. A Star Is Born (1937, William A. Wellman)
  9. Camille (1937, George Cukor)
  10. Lost Horizon (1937, Frank Capra)

1938

  1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1938, William Cottrell, Wilfred Jackson, Larry Morey, Perce Pearce, Ben Sharpsteen and David Hand)
  2. The Citadel (1938, King Vidor)
  3. To the Victor (1938, Robert Stevenson)
  4. Pygmalion (1938, Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard)
  5. A Slight Case of Murder (1938, Lloyd Bacon)
  6. Three Comrades (1938, Frank Borzage)
  7. The Lady Vanishes (1938, Alfred Hitchcock)
  8. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938, Michael Curtiz and William Keighley)
  9. A Man to Remember (1938, Garson Kanin)
  10. Four Daughters (1938, Michael Curtiz)

1939

  1. Made for Each Other (1939, John Cromwell)
  2. Stagecoach (1939, John Ford)
  3. Wuthering Heights (1939, William Wyler)
  4. Dark Victory (1939, Edmund Goulding)
  5. Juarez (1939, William Dieterle)
  6. Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939, Sam Wood)
  7. The Women (1939, George Cukor)
  8. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939, Frank Capra)
  9. Ninotchka (1939, Ernst Lubitsch)
  10. Gone With the Wind (1939, Victor Fleming )

By the Numbers

Decades

1923-1929

Most frequent directors: Ernst Lubitsch (5), James Cruze (4), King Vidor (4)

1929-1930

Most frequent directors: George Cukor (7), Ernst Lubitsch (4), John Ford (4), Sidney Franklin (4), Frank Capra (4)

Critics

Mordaunt Hall (1923-1933)

Most frequent directors: Ernst Lubitsch (7), Sidney Franklin (4), King Vidor (4), Frank Borzage (4), F.W. Murnau (4)


sources: 1923, The New York Times, 6 January 1924. The Year in Review; 1924, Mordaunt Hall, The New York Times, 4 January 1925. The Best of More Than 200 Films Shown on Broadway; 1925, Mordaunt Hall, The New York Times, 10 January 1926. Ten best films of 1925 helped by late influx; 1926, Mordaunt Hall, The New York Times, 2 January 1927. The Year’s Best Films: Outstanding 1926 Pictures Hail From America, Germany And Russia; 1927, Mordaunt Hall, The New York Times, 1 January 1928. The Best Pictures of Past Year: 314 Films Launched in Broadway Area in 1927 Against Few More Than 200 in 1926–“The Enemy”;1928, Mordaunt Hall, The New York Times, 6 January 1929. Annual Film Survey: Emil Jannings Has Two Films in a List of Outstanding Achievements; 1929, Mordaunt Hall, The New York Times, 5 January 1930. The Best Ten Films: 384 Screen Productions Shown Last Year In Broadway Area; 1930, Mordaunt Hall, The New York Times, 4 January 1931. Last Year’s Best Films: 390 Screen Features Including a Few Silent Ones, Presented Here in Twelve Months; 1931, Mordaunt Hall, The New York Times, 3 January 1932. Blue-Ribbon Pictures of 1931: “The Guardsman” Heads List of Best Ten–Average for Year is High–Outstanding Foreign Productions; 1932, Mordaunt Hall, The New York Times, 1 January 1933. The Outstanding Ten and a List of Fifty Worthy Productions–Foreign Offerings; 1933, Mordaunt Hall, The New York Times, 31 December 1933. The Outstanding Pictorial Features of 1933: The Blue Ribbon Films and Fifty Others Worthy of Honorable Mention; 1934, Andre Sennwald, The New York Times, 30 December 1934. A Backward Look at the 1934 Cinema: In Which the Department, With a Deprecatory Shrug, Selects The Outstanding Films of a Crowded Year; 1935, Andre Sennwald, The New York Times, 5 January 1936. Best Ten, More or Less: Being the Annual Laurel-Tossing Game, Played Not Too Earnestly; 1936, Frank S. Nugent, The New York Times, 3 January 1937. Guerdons Well Earned: Being the Inevitable Selection of the Years Best Ten, or Eleven, Pictures; 1937, Frank S. Nugent, The New York Times, 2 January 1938. Ten Best, in a Pickwickian Sense: Which Means Simply That a Reviewer, Having Made His List, Refuses to Lie in It, and Beats a Hasty Retreat; 1938, Frank S. Nugent, The New York Times, 1 January 1939. Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Mo; 1937, Frank S. Nugent, The New York Times, 31 December 1939. Ring Out The Old Screen Year, Ring In The New: Tradition Dictates Another ‘Ten-Best’ and It Also Compels Its Compiler to Offer His Excuses in Advance;

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